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Unify’s New Channel Chief: ‘We’re Pretty Much Going to Stop Selling Direct’

By Kelly Teal
June 03, 2014 - News

**Editor's Note: Click here for a list of recent channel-program changes you should know.**

Unify’s new channel chief, Jon Pritchard, is spending the summer putting the final touches on a partner program that’s been the target of a major overhaul. Here’s a glimpse into the changes in store for “Go Forward": By October, when Unify’s new fiscal year begins, expect new rules of engagement and a refreshed certification program.

Unify's Jon PritchardPritchard has been on board as executive vice president of worldwide channels since February. He was hired by Dean Douglas, who himself just joined Unify. Both men came from distributor Westcon Group. Douglas had served as Westcon’s CEO since March 2009; Pritchard had been inside the Cisco practice for about five years.

In making a clean sweep of its executive team late last year, Unify (the former Siemens Enterprise Communications) was acknowledging that it needed leaders who understand the channel. The collaboration provider has been missing out on sales with its worldwide emphasis on direct sales, plus its decision not to offer its SMB product in the United States. That’s all changing with Douglas and Pritchard, and CMO Hurley, Westcon’s former CTO, in charge.

“We can’t get the scale and reach that we need, and that our products deserve, unless we change the way we go to market," Pritchard told Channel Partners in a recent interview.

With that in mind, Pritchard reviewed “Go Forward," which has been around for several years, and found that while it contained critical elements, it also lacked others.

“It’s missing some key parts," said Pritchard. “If you compound that with the fact that we often seem to compete with our partners and do have a direct sales organization, that’s a less attractive proposition to our partners than some of our competitors. It’s not just about changing Go Forward, but the whole ethos in the business – a partner-first mentality."

Indeed, rules of engagement are the first missing element.

“The preference should be to partner with a partner because they have skills we don’t have, relationships we don’t have," Pritchard said. “The power of our brand and the power of their brand [together] is stronger than our brands individually."

But Unify until now has not operated that way, and especially with the upcoming launch of its much-anticipated Project Ansible, the company can’t stay in that mode. Much of Pritchard’s aim for the next four months will focus on weighting rules of engagement in favor of the channel. The specifics remained under wraps when Pritchard spoke with Channel Partners; look for more details as Unify is able to discuss them.

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